Following a disappointing Week 1 where the Buffalo Bills fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-16, it might be hard for Bills fans to be optimistic – especially about an offense that set records in 2020 but fell flat in their 2021 debut. Josh Allen was not his usual sharp self, as he struggled to find any type of rhythm, going 30-of-51 for 270 yards and one touchdown, a rate of only 5.3 yards-per-attempt. As the engine of the offense, Allen’s struggles led to the whole unit struggling, but a couple of the other pieces had good starts to the year.
Dawson Knox and Devin Singletary both kicked off their third NFL season on Sunday. Both were taken in the third round of the 2019 NFL draft and they have followed relatively similar career trajectories so far – promising but raw rookie years, followed by second-year plateaus that at times felt like regressions. This felt like a make-or-break year for both players, who were given votes of confidence when GM Brandon Beane didn’t aggressively pursue competition at either the running back or tight end positions.
On a day when everything seemed to fall apart for the Bills, Knox and Singletary managed to impress, albeit in relatively limited roles. Buffalo’s offense is pass-heavy and funnels most of the targets to the wide receivers, so neither Singletary nor Knox are centerpieces of the unit, but they both showed they should perhaps see more attention as the season progresses.
Knox had a rough camp and preseason with some rather notable drops but proved to be sure-handed on Sunday, catching all four of his targets for 41 yards. Three of his catches went for first downs, and 18 of his yards came after the catch, where he flashed his athleticism on a few occasions. After two years of issues holding onto the ball, fans should be encouraged by Knox’s start.
Singletary conversely looked great this summer after a well-documented physical transformation that aimed to add explosiveness to an already shifty player. The former Florida Atlantic running back had a number of big plays in the preseason and followed it up with a strong 72 yards on 11 carries in week one.
Singletary had runs of 25, 15, 10, and 8 yards, averaged 2.91 yards-after-contact, and broke three tackles on the day.
The Bills are going to try and put this game out of their heads as quickly as possible. Not much went right, in particular offensively, but Knox and Singletary were bright spots, which given how important this season is for the pair of them, should encourage Bills fans. My hope is the rest of the offense can figure it out, at which point we might start to notice Knox and Singletary shine even more. Either way, the duo will be important to the Bills reaching the heights they hope to reach in 2021 and beyond.